What Google's Pigeon Update Could Mean For Your Business

Google's latest update was rolled out on July 24th. Its aim is to improve organic local search rankings. Although it was given no internal name, Searchengineland.com decided to call it “Pigeon” and the name has stuck.

It's actually a slightly confusing name to give this algorithm change, as there was a Google update called PigeonRank back in 2002. This update has nothing to do with improving how PageRank is calculated however.

The Pigeon update has several key implications for business owners, who rely on local web and footfall traffic for business survival.

So to make sure your business does not suffer unnecessarily, it's crucial that you are aware of the changes and tweak your online presence to make sure you stay ahead of your local competition.

Google local results
Google local results

Google Is Trying To Deliver More Relevant Local Search Results

The aim of Google's Pigeon update is to improve organic local search results, to make them more relevant and useful to your "average Joe" searcher.

The focus is on improving reliability in determining physical location, mixed with delivering a more contextual search experience. The net result being to tune into local consumer needs in a more efficient way.

As an example, if you are standing in the middle of central London, and you type in the word "pizza", rather than thinking you want to know what the ingredients of a pizza are, or that you want to travel ten miles to eat one, Google will now deliver restaurant and takeaway search results that are more tightly targeted to your exact location.

How Will The Pigeon Changes Affect Local Businesses?

The first major thing is that Authorship seems to be vanishing from local search results. In the past, Google Authorship was a way of improving your search result visibility, through Google displaying an image of you from your Google+ profile.

The second change is there are now less "seven pack" results. This is where highly relevant local businesses are grouped for easy eye scanning.

Thirdly, quality local web directories seem to be coming back into the search results. In the past directories took a hammering from Google, eradicating them from most organic search results. However, it appears that high quality local directories such as Yelp are now making a return to local search.

How Can I Benefit From Google's Pigeon Update?


As a local business, you need to be ahead of your competition. This means understanding the changes that have occurred through Google's Pigeon update and compensating for them right now.

1. Look at your on page SEO

With less emphasis on seven pack results and more emphasis on organic listings, you need to take a look at your on page search engine optimisation:

  • Make sure your full business details are listed in your site footer
  • Make sure your physical location is listed on key pages
  • Make sure your social media accounts work hard to emphasise your location
  • Look at your key search terms and make sure they emphasise location and business area
  • Link your site to any obvious local reviews of your business

2. Look at your analytics

You should also have a good look at your web analytics data. In particular, look for changes to the search terms people are reaching your site from. Have they changed since 24th July?

If the search terms have changed, then you need to look at the old search terms which used to bring you traffic in detail. Can you make changes to existing pages, or add new content to continue bringing traffic from those old search terms?

3. Consider directory submissions

And finally, are you listed in quality business directories for your locality? Make sure you have a high quality listing in both your national directories and any smaller local directories. This could include business listings on local newspaper sites and other trusted local sources.

Although the Pigeon update doesn't appear to have rolled out fully in the UK (as of writing), it's worth taking action now to ensure the effects are minimal.